A traditional Gloucestershire Recipe
Do you make a traditional recipe from your locality? As a newcomer to Gloucestershire I really wasn’t aware of a particular recipe to make. There seemed to be nothing as well-known as Bakewell Tart or Eccles cakes.
I started researching and asked for suggestions, but nothing really grabbed me. Then following a link about a different dish, I discovered Oldbury Tarts filled with gooseberries.
Oldbury-on-Severn is a small village near the river Severn with a population of about 800 people. The village was known for its Oldbury Tarts when they were made for the Whitsun Fair in particular. However, despite the recipe for Oldbury tarts allegedly going back 200 years, it’s difficult to find any mention later than the 1940s.
Gooseberry Tarts made with Sweet Hot Water Crust Pastry
I’ve spent an enjoyable time comparing recipes and even talking to one lady who has been making them for over 70 years! The Oldbury Gooseberry Tarts are made with sweet hot water crust pastry.
After many different attempts, I have a recipe for you to follow. The Oldbury Tart recipe does take a bit of patience and it’s important not to cut corners – they do need to go in the fridge for several hours or even overnight before baking.
I made my tarts with gooseberries from the freezer. It didn’t make too much difference if they were cooked from frozen or thawed first. However, whole gooseberries worked better than ones chopped. One recipe I found specifically asks for small young gooseberries which would be ideal.
I also made a version with blueberries which was tasty, but perhaps not quite tart enough. Apparently, they were also made with blackcurrants when in season.
This was the first time I had made sweet hot water crust pastry. I started with Callum Franklin’s standard hot water pastry recipe and added sugar. (By the way his book on The Pie Room is a must have). The first version tasted too much of lard. The final version has both butter and lard which tasted much better.
It’s essential to have something in the pie case to mop up the juices. I first tried cornflour which didn’t work. I sprinkled the bottom with semolina which worked really well (thanks to Steph Clubb for the suggestion).
The recipes mostly agree that the bottom of the tart should be saucer-sized and the top cup-sized. Certainly you do not need larger, the tart it is filling! I used an upturned ramekin dish, well-floured ,to shape the pastry into a cylinder shape which worked well. The lid was sealed by pressing the edges together, then crimped. I egg washed the pastry.
After time in the fridge, I baked at 200C for 20 to 25 minutes. I have two different ovens and the timing varied. You want to be sure that the bottom is well baked and the crust a good golden brown.
Why you should make these tarts
The tarts are so delicious. This is comfort food on a plate: beautiful crisp pastry with a tart filling. This is one that will definitely remain on the menu. Now where is the custard?
Oldbury Gooseberry Tarts
- Baking Tray
- Ramekin dish or similar to form the shape
- A saucer or bowl about 6 inches in diameter
- A cup or something similar about 2.5 inches in diameter
- Rolling pin
- Pastry Brush
For the hot water crust pastry
- 250 grams plain flour
- 50 grams lard
- 30 grams butter
- 100 millilitres water
- 20 grams sugar
- 1 egg beaten
- 5 grams salt
- semolina For sprinkling over the pastry
For the gooseberries
- 400 grams gooseberries whole
- 30 grams white sugar
- 30 grams brown sugar
For the Egg wash
- 1 egg
- Put the flour into a bowl or a stand mixer bowl. Add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly either by hand or in a stand mixer.
- Melt the water, lard, butter and salt in the water until boiling
- Slowly pour onto the flour and mix well for 2-3 minutes
- Spread the pastry out and allow to cool to room temperature. Put into the fridge well covered enough for a minimum of 15 minutes. It keeps well and can be frozen.
For the filling
- Mix the two sugars together. If the gooseberries are fresh, top and tail them. Set aside whilst you roll out the pastry.
Assembling the tart
- Roll out the pastry and cut out 6 large circles and 6 smaller circles. You can re-roll the pastry if necessary.
- Flour your ramekin dish well and turn it upside down. Place a large circle of pastry over the dish and mould over the dish and down the sides. Prise the pastry off the ramekin and place it right side up on the counter. Reshape if needed. Do the same with the remaining pastry bottoms.
- Lightly sprinkle the case with semolina.
- Fill the pastry cases with gooseberries. Sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar over the gooseberries.
- Roll the smaller circles a little larger than first cut. Place on top of the gooseberries. Moving in a circle, squeeze the pastry together to seal it. Don't worry if it doesn't quite seal at this stage.
- Now crimp the top. Use the index finger on your left hand to push the dough whilst you pinch with your right hand. Do the same with the remaining pieces.
- Egg wash and put into the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Egg wash a second time and bake for around 25 minutes until golden and the bottom is well covered. Some liquid might escape.
- Serve warm
Recipes I discovered
Xanthe Clay mentions the Oldbury Pie in her round up of pies and puddings we should cherish.
In a Taste of Gloucestershire (2009) by Andrea Leeman she includes a recipe from Mrs Sue Taylor. Her aunt Edie showed her how to make the tarts. Her recipe does not include any sugar in the pastry.
Jane Grigson’s recipe mentioned by Nigel Slater. This is closest to my recipe.
Neil Cooks Jane Grigson He did not like the pies at all!
Foods of England – Sue Keedwell’s recipe asks for a very large amount of sugar.
In Paul Hollywood’s recipe made by Tanya from the The way I cook he uses such a tiny amount of sugar, I can’t imagine it doing its job.
In this version, Mary Anne Boermans author bakes the pies more like a gala pie and adds elderflower.
Check out these pastry recipes: